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Husky Softball Notebook: Alvelo in Cruise Control

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Taran Alvelo stymied the dangerous Wildcat lineup for almost the entire series, earning UW a sweep of #9 Arizona. Plus, a preview of the next series at Stanford.

Taran Alvelo exits the mound after finishing off the final Arizona batter for the win.
Ed Strong

#1 Washington swept 9th-ranked Arizona last weekend, winning 2-1 and 4-3 in 8 innings each of the first two games before shutting out the Wildcats 2-0 in the finale.

Taran Alvelo was utterly dominating, pitching complete games on Friday and Sunday, plus getting the win in relief on Saturday. Overall, she went 17 innings and gave up just 1 run: a 6th-inning solo homer by Alyssa Palomino on Friday.

Sis Bates came up huge in the 7th inning on Friday, singling off Arizona ace Taylor McQuillin with 2 outs to drive home Kelly Burdick to tie the game. An inning later, Julia DePonte blasted a homer off a light fixture in left-center to win it.

In the bottom of the 8th on Saturday, Taryn Atlee drove a double deep into the right-center gap as Emma Helm chugged all the way around the bases and scored ahead of the relay throw. In the sixth, Helm hit her first career home run off McQuillin to tie it up just after Jessie Harper had given UA a 3-2 lead by homering off Gabbie Plain.

Read more including a cool anecdote on Taran Alvelo in my first series recap for Behind The Plate Softball, where I'll be covering Seattle-based series.

Pac-12 Rankings/Standings

#8 Arizona State (27-4, 5-1 Pac-12)

#1 Washington (32-2, 4-2)

#3 UCLA (28-2, 4-2)

#5 Oregon (25-5, 2-1)

#11 Arizona (24-6, 3-3)

Stanford (20-10, 1-2)

(RV) Oregon State (19-13, 2-4)

Utah (17-12, 2-4)

#22 California (24-8, 1-5)

Pac-12 Schedule

Due to the Pac-12 apparently viewing Easter as a fairly important holiday (as opposed to the SEC, located in the Bible Belt of all places, which is on normal schedule), all #Pac12SB series run Thursday-Saturday this week.

#1 Washington at Stanford

#22 California at #11 Arizona

#5 Oregon at (RV) Oregon State

#3 UCLA at Utah

#8 Arizona State is off from conference play this week, but hosts BYU and North Dakota State in a double round-robin on Friday and Saturday (4 games for each team)

Washington vs Stanford: when and how to watch

Thursday, 6 PM: P12N (WA/Bay)

Friday, 7 PM: P12N (National/WA/Bay)

Saturday, 3 PM: P12N (National/WA/Bay)

Scouting Stanford

The Cardinal are probably the weakest team in the Pac-12, but they're still a notable foe. Last year, Stanford came into Seattle as a huge underdog. UW narrowly won G1, then Stanford pulled the emphatic upset in game 2 before the Huskies woke up and routed the Card on Senior Day. And the 2018 Stanford team is without a doubt better than the 2017 version, already having passed last year's 19 wins.

Stanford also has a new head coach, one of the best in the business. Jessica Allister, a Stanford alumna, led a remarkable surge at the University of Minnesota to create a powerful program in a conference that, for softball, had just been "Michigan, and everyone else." The Gophers lost just 3 games in the regular season last year — but two of them came in Seattle, a 3-2 nailbiter and a 9-0 run-rule. Interestingly, that means that Stanford, which went 19-32 last year, had better success in Seattle than their new head coach did with 54-3 Minnesota. Does that mean anything? Probably not.

Freshman pitcher #95 Maddy Dwyer has emerged as the workhorse for the Cardinal. She's gone 11-6 so far with a 1.92 ERA in over 100 innings for Stanford. The Huskies will also see some of sophomore #19 Kiana Pancino (6-3, 2.60), who was the primary factor in last year's upset win on Montlake. Pancino threw a CG one-hitter in game 2 in 2017, so it will be interesting to see if Allister leans to a pitcher who has had past success, or mostly sticks with her ace.

Sophomore 3B #23 Teaghan Cowles is clearly the biggest offensive threat in their lineup. The Ridgefield, WA native has slashed .426/.477/.614 so far this year, and has started every single game since arriving at Stanford (81, at this point). She's not a huge power threat (13 XBH, none of them home runs) but she's a good line drive hitter and she's very fast (14 steals without being caught). Husky comparison: a right-handed version of Taylor Van Zee, minus the HR pop.

I would expect to see less of Alvelo this series and more of Plain and especially Sam Manti. The Huskies are trying to keep Alvelo under 50% of the total innings pitched, but the last two weeks she's racked up a lot. I bet Alvelo pitches either one complete game or two relief appearances. Manti, who hasn't pitched at all since 2 weeks ago vs. Bryant, should get plenty of time this week.